I launched the Queensland Democrats Environmental Sustainability platform with the Australian Koala Foundation‘s Deborah Tabart, last week.
It’s clear that state and local government have not been able to get their act together enough to prevent excessive clearing of koala habitat – resorting to the tried and true method of blaming each other for the situation. Meanwhile things continue to deteriorate. The federal government has been happy to intervene on a whole range of issue in the last few years, yet they are sitting to one side and letting one of our nation’s most iconic species get pushed inexorably towards extinction in the wild.
There is no doubt the federal Environment Minister has a range of powers available under the Environment Protection Biodiversity and Conservation (EPBC) Act to stop the decline of the koala and its habitat, should they wish to use them.
According to the Koala Foundation, approximately 80% of Australia’s eucalypt forests have been cleared, and of the remaining 20% almost none is protected. Most of it is on privately-owned land. The Koala Foundation’s website has a fascinating section which records the remaining koala habitat in every federal electorate, along with a rating of each candidate’s responses to five key questions.
It is important to provide more incentives for landholders to maintain vegetation on their land, an idea that was given cross-party support in a recent Senate Committee report on protected areas. I had a bit of success about seven years ago with expanding tax exemptions for land donated for conservation purposes, but much more can be done in this area.